Information Warfare · Russia

RT Is Literally Russian Propaganda — Why Does Anybody Take it Seriously?


To quote an anonymous friend:

It is no coincidence, either, that RT has also taken up the banner of the U.S. social justice left. Their critical reporting on issues like the Ferguson riots and the Dakota Access Pipeline has given the organization a certain amount of credibility among those who traffic in perennial protesting.

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On television and within the corridors of official Washington, Kremlinology is having a renaissance. But as questions swirl about the extent of President Trump’s relationship to Russia, it’s actually never been easier to take the pulse of Moscow. Americans have access to it on television and online 24 hours a day.

It seems innocuous enough: A small green square with “RT” in black letters. It looks cool, with a sort of edgy counter-culture mystique. It’s slogan — “Question More” — blares from the website’s masthead. Maybe you’ve even seen some articles linked around other sites you read or recognize some of the people on television.

That, of course, is the plan.

RT, however, is not cool. Far from some quirky left-wing media company, it is fully the mouthpiece of the Russian government. Formerly just Russia Today, its outlets and subsidiaries around the world regularly spew 21st century agitprop with the express aim of advancing Russia’s strategic interests.

Regular Mediaite readers, of course, need no reminder of the insidious role RT plays in the national discourse, but here’s a primer.

Its meddling in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections was documented in a recent report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The report claims that in 2012:

The channel portrayed the US electoral process as undemocratic and featured calls by US protesters for the public to rise up and “take this government back.”

In 2016, the report goes on:

Russia’s state-run propaganda machine—comprised of its domestic media apparatus, outlets targeting global audiences such as RT and Sputnik, and a network of quasi-government trolls—contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.

In the global sphere, however, the situation is no better. From the Ukraine to Syria, the network’s coverage of international events affecting Russia is hopelessly biased. When Israel had a problem with RT’s coverage, their foreign minister took the matter up with Vladimir Putin. While domestic reporters in Russia know what happens to those who step out of line, RT’s foreign correspondents have a nettlesome tendency for very public crises of conscience

Yet despite the abundant and irrefutable evidence of RT’s ulterior motives, the channel endures like some fiendish creature from Tolkien’s Middle Earth. In the United States, you can follow the latest on RT America from their Twitter page (they are up to 370,000+ followers). There’s also Facebook, where the number of fans is now approaching one million. Alexa, which measures website traffic, puts RT within the top 300 online destinations globally, (though this number is a sharp increase over the last six months). Even in the United States, RT’s rank is roughly on par with sites like Salon and The Daily Caller.

Aside from taking gross advantage of western press freedoms — freedoms that journalists in Russia are literally dying for — RT’s success in the United States comes as the result of a long and stealthy campaign of normalization, especially among the anti-establishment left.

What does that normalization look like in this regard? It looks like Larry King, who after leaving CNN, ran headfirst into RT’s arms. Maybe you caught him on their 2016 election night coverage. Or ducking questions about Russia’s international conduct at the height of the Crimea crisis in 2014. “You may not like what Russia’s doing now, but I’m really a party removed,” he told The Daily Beast in an interview at the time. If you missed King, the network also features such aging forget-me-nots as former MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz and former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.

It is no coincidence, either, that RT has also taken up the banner of the U.S. social justice left. Their critical reporting on issues like the Ferguson riots and the Dakota Access Pipeline has given the organization a certain amount of credibility among those who traffic in perennial protesting.

RT’s online content is often indistinguishable from Salon, Democracy Now!, the Young Turks, and other totems of leftist American media — and this is keenly by design.

Russia gave the world many wonderful things like Tchaikovsky and high-quality vodka. News, however, should not be one of their exports.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Source: http://www.mediaite.com/online/rt-is-literally-russian-propaganda-why-does-anybody-take-it-seriously/

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2 thoughts on “RT Is Literally Russian Propaganda — Why Does Anybody Take it Seriously?

  1. RT can attack both from the left and from the right, and they’re doing it.

    The EU is taking RT more seriously: the European Parliament on Nov. 23 of last year voted a motion asking the EU Council to ban RT and Sputnik as they are only disinformation organs. The far-left (but not the moderate left which with then EP president Schulz and the far-right (largely financed by Moscow) voted against the motion, which was carried by 304 votes to 179, with 208 abstentions.

    The EP said the Kremlin was using “a wide range of tools and instruments”, including think tanks, multilingual TV stations, “pseudo news agencies”, and social media to spread fake information, challenge democratic values, and divide Europe.

    The resolution says the Kremlin has stepped up its propaganda efforts against the EU since Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea territory in 2014.

    Lawmakers urged the European Union to boost its “tiny” communication force and invest more in “awareness raising, education, online and local media, investigative journalism, and information literacy.”

    They said they were “seriously concerned by the rapid expansion of Kremlin-inspired activities in Europe, including disinformation and propaganda seeking to maintain or increase Russia’s influence to weaken and split the EU.”

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is financed by the U.S. federal budget, has opened a digital media department for “countering the disinformation in the Russian mediasphere” through social networks, but this is mainly directed at Europe, not the US.

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